In the greatest of ironies I sit here trying to rush through the writing of a blog post on patience. Unfortunately for most of us patience is an inconvenience at best. We all have a list of things to get done and the sense that if that list doesn’t get done we’re going to either fail or miss out on something. Yet in another great irony it’s only when we can free ourselves of this fear that we find freedom. This is the beauty of patience, it forces us to face that fear and acknowledge the things happening around us right now. Patience forces us to smell the flowers.
Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will God not much more clothe you—you of little faith? – Matthew 6:28b-30
Lent as a season is built upon the idea of patience. It’s the waiting and considering of our current state that makes it powerful. Too often, especially in American Protestantism, we’ve forgotten that Jesus came and died “in the fullness of time.” God could have done the saving the instant we fell, but instead God chose to wait for the appropriate time. God was patient. We’ve turned salvation into a momentary binary choice both in philosophy and in practice. Having salvation birthdays (yes, it’s a thing) is missing the point of salvation. You didn’t get saved on that day, that was the day you acknowledged you were (and are) being saved. This is the point of Lent, the reminder that salvation comes slowly and that even those of us who recognize our salvation are still in need of it.
Patience not only forces us to slow down, but it provides space for the miraculous. Lives cluttered and rushed are unconscious of the presence and power of the truly spectacular in their midst. Slowing down, allowing things to happen, gives us the chance to see God work. In Lent we see that work by abstaining from particular practices. The removal of these practices provides a space for us to see God work.
This Lent be patient, don’t skip right to Easter. Allow salvation to come slowly and watch as the miraculous happens in the midst of it.